Posts Tagged ‘measure h’

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Oaklanders: Send back your ballots and vote YES YES YES!

June 25, 2009

Yes, it’s yet another election—but this time it’s one that actually matters! The July special election is a mail-back election, which means you need to watch the mail for your ballot and send it back right away—don’t make the mistake of losing it under a pile of junk and then finding it in August when it’s too late! (Okay, maybe that’s just our house….)

Ballots were mailed out to all registered voters in the city on Monday, June 22nd. IMPORTANT: If you haven’t received your ballot by the first week in July or if you’ve moved since the last election and haven’t changed your address yet, call the Registrar of Voters to have them send a new ballot or make other arrangements so that you can vote!

You can also still register to vote in this election if you’re new to Oakland, but you need to do it by Monday, July 6, 2009.

Alameda County Registrar of Voters
1225 Fallon Street, G-1
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 272-6933

Here’s a run-down of what you’re voting for, with my personal endorsements (which, if you don’t feel like reading all of this, are YES ON EVERYTHING!):

Measure C: Vote YES
What is it? This measure is an increase in the Oakland Transient Occupancy Tax (hotel tax). It would increase the current 11 percent tax by 3 percent (to make the new TOT 14 percent). This brings Oakland’s tax in line with the tax in surrounding communities. The tax revenue would be dedicated to the Oakland Zoo, Oakland Museum, Chabot Space & Science Center, cultural arts programs and festivals, and the Oakland Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Why yes? Oakland’s hotel tax is currently lower than those of nearby cities, so we have some wiggle room. (For reference, San Francisco’s is 14 percent, while Emeryville and Berkeley both have TOTs of 12 percent.) So I don’t foresee huge competition issues in terms of filling our hotel rooms; many travelers won’t even notice the difference. More importantly, the institutions and programs that the tax increase will support help make our city a better place to visit and to live, so my view is that the additional revenue will help the tourism industry overall. There’s also no opposition to this (even the hotel industry is on board!) so it’s pretty non-controversial.

Other supporters include: Oakland Rising (Coalition of Ella Baker Center, Just Cause Oakland, Urban Habitat, EBASE, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Oakland ACORN); Bay Area Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club; Oakland Zoo; Oakland Museum of California; League of Women Voters of Oakland

Measure D: Vote YES
What is it? This measure would change the Kids First 2 measure (Measure OO) that Oakland voters approved last November. It is sometimes referred to as the “Measure OO compromise.”  It would reduce the amount of money going to the Kids First programs from 2.5% of the total budget to 3% of the General Purpose Fund, and add a review every 12 years.

Why yes? Because Measure OO was possibly the worst measure ever and desperately needs to be fixed! This fix isn’t great, but it will help. (I’d still like to see a full repeal that would identify an alternate funding source for these programs so we wouldn’t be robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak, but this was a Council compromise after much ado, and may be the best—and only—chance we’ll get to fix Measure OO before it takes effect.) Basically, it changes how the Kids First set-aside is calculated to relieve some of the pressure the original measure put on Oakland’s budget (and heaven knows our budget needs some help right now!) It also adds a program review process, which was a key element missing from Measure OO. You can read more about my issues with the original Measure OO here.

Other supporters include: Oakland Rising (Coalition of Ella Baker Center, Just Cause Oakland, Urban Habitat, EBASE, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Oakland ACORN); Bay Area Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club; League of Women Voters of Oakland

Measure F: Vote YES
What is it? Measure F would establish a new business tax rate for “cannabis businesses” (medical marijuana). These businesses are currently charged at the general tax rate ($1.20 per $1,000 of gross receipts). The new tax rate for these businesses would be $18 per $1,000 of gross receipts.

Why yes? Well, broadly this is a good thing because it’s increased revenue for Oakland and is supported by both the medical marijuana industry and the police, who are the two major players here. (In fact, there’s no opposition to this measure that I know of.) But I also think Measure F is important because it’s a first step in recognizing the role the medical marijuana industry plays in our local economy—and acknowledging that there are associated costs and helping to cover them.

Other supporters include: Oakland Rising (Coalition of Ella Baker Center, Just Cause Oakland, Urban Habitat, EBASE, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Oakland ACORN); Bay Area Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club; League of Women Voters of Oakland

Measure H: Vote YES
What is it? This measure would change Oakland’s Real Property Transfer Tax to clarify that businesses should pay the transfer tax (0.75% of the sales tax) when they transfer real property due to changes in ownership or control of the corporation (such as mergers and acquisitions).

Why yes? This isn’t a new tax; it just clarifies our existing tax so that residents and smaller businesses aren’t the only ones required to pay the transfer tax for change of ownership. This is particularly important right now because a number of large corporations are in the midst of mergers and acquisitions, so making this policy crystal clear will ensure that the City doesn’t lose out on any much-needed transfer tax revenue.

Other supporters include: Oakland Rising (Coalition of Ella Baker Center, Just Cause Oakland, Urban Habitat, EBASE, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Oakland ACORN); Bay Area Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club; League of Women Voters of Oakland

*Note that not all of the area political organizations had issued positions on the ballot measures when I put this together; I’ll try to update this if I hear of other endorsements.

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